The Identity Theft Resource Center has announced that the 656 large data breaches reported in 2008 exposed personal identity information of 35 million US consumers. These data breaches ranged from regional incidents such as a missing data package from a New Hampshire hospital to a stolen laptop at North Cascades Bank in Oregon to large Web site break ins at places like the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Any one of these breaches could lead to unauthorized use of personal information. In turn, consumers end up spending thousands of dollars to repair damage done by identity theft criminals and companies are now increasingly on the hook to pay fines for data breaches.

Many companies have jumped into the market with products and services designed to help identity theft victims or to prevent the problem completely. At least one company, Tiversa, tracks Web searches on phrases that might likely be linked to potential identity threat. Tiversa uses this information to predict and discuss increases related to identity theft during the economic downturn. Tiversa also uses the background data to promote its services to help agencies, consumers and businesses monitor potential threats, assist in recovering and prevent future breaches. Have any companies started similar businesses or new ways to track identity theft threats in your area?

[Sources: Identity Theft Resource Center 2008 Breach Report; Tiversa press release]